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Constitution of Guyana (1980, rev. 1995)

1The following text is from the Constitute Project, who through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, has generously made this content available for use for noncommercial purposes. Follow (right-click) the links and read the annotation to learn more. 1

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3Preamble

4WE THE PEOPLE OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA, the proud heirs of the indomitable spirit and unconquerable will of our forefathers who by their sacrifices, their blood and their labour made rich and fertile and bequeathed to us as our inalienable patrimony for all time this green land of Guyana,

5SALUTING the epic struggles waged by our forefathers for freedom, justice and human dignity and their relentless hostility to imperialist and colonial domination and all other forms and manifestations of oppression;

6ACCLAIMING those immortal leaders who in the vanguard of battle kept aloft the banner of freedom by the example of their courage, their fortitude and their martyrdom, whose names and deeds being forever enshrined in our hearts we forever respect, honour and revere;

7INSPIRED by the glorious victory of 26th May, 1966, when after centuries of heroic resistance and revolutionary endeavour we liberated ourselves from colonial bondage, won political independence and became free to mould our own destiny;

8CONSCIOUS of the fact that to bring about conditions necessary for the full flowering of the creative genius of the people of Guyana formal political sovereignty must be complemented by economic independence and cultural emancipation;

9HAVING ESTABLISHED the Republic on 23rd February, 1970, to reinforce our determination to chart an independent course of development in conformity with our historical experience, our cultural heritage and our common aspirations;

10PLEDGED to defend our national sovereignty, to respect human dignity and to cherish and uphold the principles of freedom, equality and democracy and all other fundamental human rights;

11DEDICATED to the principle that the people of Guyana are entitled as of right to enjoy the highest possible standard of living and quality of life consistent with their work and the possibilities of the country's resources;

12CONVINCED that the organisation of the State and society on socialist principles is the only means of ensuring social and economic justice for all of the people of Guyana; and, therefore,

13BEING MOTIVATED and guided by the principles of socialism;

14BEING OPPOSED to all social, economic and political systems which permit the exploitation of man by man; and

15ACKNOWLEDGING our common purpose of national cohesion and our common destiny as one people and one nation,

16DO SOLEMNLY RESOLVE to establish the State on foundations of social and economic justice, and accordingly by popular consensus, after full, free and open discussion, debate and participation,

17DO ADOPT the following--

18CONSTITUTION OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA

19PART 1. GENERAL PRINCIPLES

20CHAPTER I. THE STATE AND THE CONSTITUTION

211. The State in transition to socialism.

22Guyana is an indivisible, secular, democratic sovereign state in the course of transition from capitalism to socialism and shall be known as the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

232. The territory.

24The territory of the State comprises the areas that immediately before the commencement of this Constitution were comprised in the area of Guyana together with such other areas as may be declared by Act of Parliament to form part of the territory of the State.

253. The capital.

26The capital of the State is the city of Georgetown.

274. The flag.

28The national flag of the State is the flag known as "The Golden Arrow Head".

295. The coat of arms.

30The coat of arms of the State is that in use at the commencement of this Constitution.

316. The anthem.

32The national anthem of the State is the anthem known as "Green Land of Guyana".

337. Duty to respect national symbols.

34It is the duty of every citizen of Guyana wherever he may be and of every person in Guyana to respect the national flag, the coat of arms, the national anthem and the Constitution of Guyana, and to treat them with due and proper solemnity on all occasions.

358. Supremacy of Constitution.

36This Constitution is the supreme law of Guyana and, if any other law is inconsistent with it, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

37CHAPTER II. PRINCIPLES AND BASES OF THE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SYSTEM

389. Sovereignty belongs to the people.

39Sovereignty belongs to the people, who exercise it through their representatives and the democratic organs established by or under this Constitution.

4010. Political parties.

41The right to form political parties and their freedom of action are guaranteed. Political parties must respect the principles of national sovereignty and of democracy.

4211. Trade unions and co-operatives.

43Co-operatives, trade unions and all socio-economic organisations of a national character are entitled to participate in the various management and decision-making processes of the State and particularly in the political, economic, social and cultural sectors of national life.

4412. Local government.

45Local government by freely elected representatives of the people is an integral part of the democratic organisation of the State.

4613. Objective of Political system.

47The principal objective of the political system of the State is to extend socialist democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens in the management and decision-making processes of the State.

4814. Goal of economic development.

49The supreme goal of the economic system which is being established in the State is the fullest possible satisfaction of the people's growing material, cultural and intellectual requirements, as well as the development of their personality and their socialist relations in society.

5015. Economic revolution.

511. In order to achieve economic independence as the imperative concomitant of its political independence, the State will revolutionise the national economy.

522. The national economy of the State will be based upon the social ownership of the means of production and the eventual abolition of internal arrangements and relationships which permit the exploitation of man by man.

533. The economy will develop in accordance with the economic laws of socialism on the foundation of socialist relations of production and development of the production forces.

544. National economic planning shall be the basic principle of the development and management of the economy. It shall provide for the widest possible participation of the people and their socio-economic organs at enterprise, community, regional and national levels, and shall also provide continuous opportunity for the working people to exercise initiative and to develop a spirit of creativity and innovation.

5516. Economic role of co-operativism.

56Co-operativism in practice shall be the dynamic principle of socialist transformation and shall pervade and inform all interrelationships in the society. Co-operativism is rooted in the historical experience of the people, is based on self-reliance, is capable of releasing the productive energies of the people, and is a unifying principle in the total development of the nation.

5717. Private enterprise.

58The existence of privately owned economic enterprises is recognised. Such enterprises must satisfy social needs and operate within the regulatory framework of national policy and the law.

5918. Land to the tiller.

60Land is for social use and must go to the tiller.

6119. Personal property.

62Every citizen has the right to own personal property which includes such assets as dwelling houses and the land on which they stand, farmsteads, tools and equipment, motor vehicles and bank accounts.

6320. Right of inheritance.

64The right of inheritance is guaranteed.

6521. Role of labour.

66The source of the growth of social wealth and of the well-being of the people, and of each individual, is the labour of the people.

6722. The right and the duty to work.

681. Every citizen has the right to work and its free selection in accordance with social requirements and personal qualifications. He has the right to be rewarded according to the nature, quality and quantity of his work. Women and men have the right to equal pay for equal work.

692. Socially useful activity is an honourable duty of every citizen able to work. The right to work implies a corresponding duty to work.

703. The right to work is guaranteed

71 i.by social ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange;

72 ii.by socialist planning, development and management of the economy;

73 iii.by planned and progressive growth of the socialist productive forces and labour productivity;

74 iv.by consistent implementation of scientific principles and new and appropriate techniques;

75 v.by continuous education and training of citizens;

76 vi.by socialist labour laws; and

77 vii.by sustained efforts on the part of the State, co-operatives, trade unions and other socio-economic organisations and the people working together to develop the economy in accordance with the foregoing principles in order to increase continuously the country's material wealth, expand employment opportunities, improve working conditions and progressively increase amenities and benefits.

7823. Right to leisure.

79Every citizen has the right to rest, recreation and leisure. The State in co-operation with co-operatives, trade unions and other socio-economic organisations will guarantee this right by prescribing hours and conditions of work and by establishing holiday arrangements for workers, including a complex of cultural, educational and health institutions.

8024. Right to medical attention and social care in case of old age and disability.

81Every citizen has the right to free medical attention and also to social care in case of old age and disability.

8225. Duty to improve environment.

83Every citizen has a duty to participate in activities designed to improve the environment and protect the health of the nation.

8426. Right to housing.

85Every citizen has the right to proper housing accommodation.

8627. Right to education.

87Every citizen has the right to free education from nursery to university as well as at non formal places where opportunities are provided for education and training.

8828. Youth.

89Every young person has the right to ideological, social, cultural and vocational development and to the opportunity for responsible participation in the development of the socialist order of society.

9029. Equality for women.

911. Women and men have equal rights and the same legal status in all spheres of political, economic and social life. All forms of discrimination against women on the basis of their sex are illegal.

922. The exercise of women's rights is ensured by according women equal access with men to academic, vocational and professional training, equal opportunities in employment, remuneration and promotion, and in social, political and cultural activity, by special labour and health protection measures for women, by providing conditions enabling mothers to work, and by legal protection and material and moral support for mothers and children, including paid leave and other benefits for mothers and expectant mothers.

9330. Equality for children born out of wedlock.

94Children born out of wedlock are entitled to the same legal rights and legal status as are enjoyed by children born in wedlock. All forms of discrimination against children on the basis of their being born out of wedlock are illegal.

9531. Protection of citizens resident abroad.

96It is the duty of the State to protect the just rights and interests of citizens resident abroad.

9732. Duty to prevent crime and protect public property.

98It is the joint duty of the State, the society and every citizen to combat and prevent crime and other violations of the law and to take care of and protect public property.

9933. Duty to defend State.

100It is the duty of every citizen to defend the State.

10134. Abolition of discriminatory distinctions.

102It is the duty of the State to enhance the cohesiveness of the society by eliminating discriminatory distinctions between classes, between town and country, and between mental and physical labour.

10335. National culture.

104The State honours and respects the diverse cultural strains which enrich the society and will seek constantly to promote national appreciation of them at all levels and to develop out of them a socialist national culture for Guyana.

10536. The environment.

106In the interests of the present and future generations, the State will protect and make rational use of its land, mineral and water resources, as well as its fauna and flora, and will take all appropriate measures to conserve and improve the environment.

10737. External relations.

108The State supports the legitimate aspirations of other peoples for freedom and independence and will establish relations with all states on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual respect, inviolability of frontiers, territorial integrity of states, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-intervention in internal affairs, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and co-operation among States.

10938. National co-operation for development of economy.

110It is the duty of the State, co-operatives, trade unions, other socio-economic organisations and the people through sustained and disciplined endeavours to achieve the highest possible levels of production and productivity and to develop the economy in order to ensure the realisation of the rights set out in this Chapter.

11139. This Chapter not enforceable unless legislation enacted for that purpose.

112Parliament may by law provide that any provision of this Chapter shall be enforceable in any court or tribunal and only where, and to the extent to which, such law provides for the enforcement of any such provision, and not otherwise, shall that provision be enforceable in any court or tribunal.

113CHAPTER III. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF THE INDIVIDUAL

11440. Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual.

1151. Every person in Guyana is entitled to the basic right to a happy, creative and productive life, free from hunger, disease, ignorance and want. That right includes the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely--

116 a.life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law;

117 b.freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association; and

118 c.protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation.

1192. The provisions of Title 1 of Part 2 shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to the aforesaid fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.

120CHAPTER IV. CITIZENSHIP

12141. Persons who continue to be citizens on commencement of Constitution.

122Every person who, immediately before the commencement of this Constitution, is a citizen of Guyana shall continue to be a citizen of Guyana.

12342. Persons entitled to be registered as citizens.

1241. Every person who, immediately before the commencement of this Constitution, is or has been married to a person--

125 a.who continues to be a citizen of Guyana by virtue of the preceding article; or

126 b.who, having died before the commencement of this Constitution, would, but for his or her death, have continued to be a citizen of Guyana on that date by virtue of that article,

127shall, if not otherwise a citizen, be entitled, upon making application and upon taking the oath of allegiance, to be registered as a citizen of Guyana:

128Provided that the right to be registered as a citizen under this paragraph shall be subject to such exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interests of national security or public policy.

1292. Any application for registration under this article shall be made in such manner as may be prescribed.

13043. Persons born in Guyana after commencement of Constitution.

131Every person born in Guyana after the commencement of this Constitution shall become a citizen of Guyana at the date of his birth:

132Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Guyana by virtue of this article if at the time of his birth--

133 a.his father or his mother possesses such immunity from suit and legal process as is accorded to an envoy of a foreign sovereign power accredited to Guyana and neither of them is a citizen of Guyana; or

134 b.his father or his mother is an enemy alien and the birth occurs in a place then under occupation by the enemy.

13544. Persons born outside Guyana after commencement of Constitution.

136A person born outside Guyana after the commencement of this Constitution shall become a citizen of Guyana at the date of his birth if at that date his father or his mother is a citizen of Guyana otherwise than by virtue of this article.

13745. Marriage to citizen of Guyana.

138Any person who, after the commencement of this Constitution, marries a person who is or becomes a citizen of Guyana shall be entitled, upon making application in such manner and taking such oath of allegiance as may be prescribed, to be registered as a citizen of Guyana:

139Provided that the right to be registered as a citizen of Guyana under this article shall be subject to such exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interests of national security or public policy.

14046. Deprivation of citizenship on acquisition of, or exercise of rights of, another citizenship.

1411. If the President is satisfied that any citizen of Guyana has at any time after 25th May, 1966, acquired by registration, naturalisation or other voluntary and formal act (other than marriage) the citizenship of any country other than Guyana, the President may by order deprive that person of his citizenship.

1422. If the President is satisfied that any citizen of Guyana has at any time after 25th May, 1966, voluntarily claimed and exercised in a country other than Guyana any rights available to him under the law of that country, being rights accorded exclusively to its citizens, the President may by order deprive that person of his citizenship.

14347. Commonwealth citizens.

1441. Every person who under this Constitution or any Act of Parliament is a citizen of Guyana or under any enactment for the time being in force in any country to which this article applies is a citizen of that country shall, by virtue of that citizenship, have the status of a Commonwealth citizen.

1452. Every person who is a British subject without citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1948, continues to be a British subject under section 2 of that Act or is a British subject under the British Nationality Act 1965 shall, by virtue of that status, have the status of a Commonwealth citizen.

1463. The countries to which this article applies are [Antigua and Barbuda] Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, [Belize], Botswana, [Brunei], Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, [Maldives], Malta, Mauritius, Nauru, New Zealand and Island Territories and Self-Governing Countries in free Association with New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, [Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines], Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom and Colonies, [Vanuatu], Western Samoa, [Zambia and Zimbabwe].

1474. The President may from time to time by order subject to affirmative resolution of the National Assembly amend paragraph (3) by adding any country thereto or by deleting any country therefrom.

14848. Powers of Parliament.

149Parliament may make provision--

150 a.for the acquisition of citizenship of Guyana by persons who do not become citizens of Guyana by virtue of the provisions of this Chapter;

151 b.for depriving of his citizenship of Guyana any person who is a citizen of Guyana otherwise than by virtue of article 41 (in so far as it relates to persons who became citizens of Guyana by virtue of articles 21, 23 and 24 of the Constitution of Guyana annexed to the Guyana Independence Order 1966), 43 or 44; or

152 c.for the renunciation by any person of his citizenship of Guyana.

15349. Interpretation.

1541. In this Chapter "prescribed" means prescribed by or under any Act of Parliament.

1552. For the purposes of this Chapter, a person born aboard a registered ship or aircraft or aboard an unregistered ship or aircraft of the government of any country shall be deemed to have been born in the place in which the ship or aircraft was registered or, as the case may be, in that country.

1563. Any reference in this Chapter to the national status of the father or mother of a person at the time of that person's birth shall, in relation to a person born after the death of either parent, be construed as a reference to the national status of the deceased parent at the time of that parent's death; and where that death occurred before the date of commencement of this Constitution, and the birth occurred on or after that date, the national status which that parent would have had if he or she had died on that date, shall be deemed to be his or her national status at the time of death.

157CHAPTER V. SUPREME ORGANS OF DEMOCRATIC POWER

15850. Supreme organs of democratic power.

159The supreme organs of democratic power in Guyana shall be--

160 i.the Parliament;

161 ii.the National Congress of Local Democratic Organs;

162 iii.the Supreme Congress of the People;

163 iv.the President; and

164 v.the Cabinet.

165CHAPTER VI. PARLIAMENT

166Composition of Parliament

16751. Establishment of Parliament.

168There shall be a Parliament of Guyana, which shall consist of the President and the National Assembly.

16952. Composition of the National Assembly.

1701. Subject to paragraph (2) and to articles 105, 185 and 186, the National Assembly shall consist of sixty-five members who shall be elected in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and, subject thereto, in accordance with any law made by Parliament in that behalf.

1712. If any person who is not a member of the National Assembly is elected to be Speaker of the Assembly, he shall, by virtue of holding the office of Speaker, be a member of the Assembly in addition to the members aforesaid.

17253. Qualifications for election as members.

173Subject to article 155 (which relates to allegiance, insanity, and other matters) a person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly if, and shall not be so qualified unless, he--

174 a.is a citizen of Guyana of the age of eighteen years or upwards; and

175 b.is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, to read the English language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him to take an active part in the proceedings of the Assembly.

17654. Tenure of seats of members of the National Assembly.

177Members of the National Assembly shall vacate their seats in the Assembly in the circumstances set out in article 156.

17855. First meeting of the National Assembly.

179Whenever elections have been held pursuant to the provisions of article 61, the National Assembly shall hold its first meeting at the time appointed under article 69(1), and any reference in this Constitution to the National Assembly meeting for the first time after any election shall be read and construed as a reference to such first meeting.

18056. Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

1811. When the National Assembly first meets after any election and before it proceeds to the despatch of any other business, it shall elect a person to be the Speaker of the Assembly; and, if the office of Speaker falls vacant at any time before the next dissolution of Parliament, the Assembly shall, as soon as practicable, elect another person to that office.

1822. The Speaker may be elected either from among the members of the Assembly who are not Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries or from among persons who are not members of the Assembly but are qualified for election as members.

1833. When the National Assembly first meets after any election and before it proceeds to the despatch of any other business except the election of the Speaker, the Assembly shall elect a member of the Assembly who is not a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary to be Deputy Speaker of the Assembly; and if the office of Deputy Speaker falls vacant at any time before the next dissolution of Parliament, the Assembly shall, as soon as convenient, elect another such member to that office.

1844. A person shall vacate the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker if required to do so by article 157 (which relates to loss of qualification for election as a member of the National Assembly and other matters).

18557. Clerk and Deputy Clerk.

1861. There shall be a Clerk and a Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, and appointments to those offices shall be made by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Speaker.

1872. The tenure of office and terms of service of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk and other matters relating thereto shall be regulated by article 158.

18858. Unqualified persons sitting or voting.

1891. Any person who sits or votes in the National Assembly, knowing or having reasonable ground for knowing that he is not entitled to do so, shall be liable to a penalty of fifty dollars for each day upon which he so sits or votes.

1902. Any such penalty shall be recoverable by civil action in the High Court at the suit of the Attorney General.

191Elections

19259. Qualifications and disqualifications for electors.

193Subject to the provisions of article 159, every person may vote at an election if he is of the age of eighteen years or upwards and is either a citizen of Guyana or a Commonwealth citizen domiciled and resident in Guyana.

19460. Electoral system.

1951. Election of members of the National Assembly shall be by secret ballot.

1962. Subject to the provisions of article 160(2), fifty-three members of the National Assembly shall be elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation prescribed by article 160(1).

1973. On such day as the President may by proclamation appoint, being a day which he considers to be as early as practicable after an election of members of a regional democratic council has been held in consequence of a dissolution effected under the provisions of article 73(2), the council shall elect one of its members to serve as a member of the National Assembly.

1984. On such day as the President may by proclamation appoint, being a day which he considers to be as early as practicable after an election of members of the National Congress of Local Democratic Organs has been held in consequence of a dissolution effected under the provisions of article 80(2), the Congress shall elect two of its members to serve as members of the National Assembly.

19961. Times for elections under article 60 (2).

200An election of members of the National Assembly under article 60(2) shall be held on such day within [fifteen months] after every dissolution of Parliament as the President shall appoint by proclamation:

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